Farm animal genetic resources

Farm animal genetic resources in Norway include all farm animals used for breeding — whether they're the stray cat that has kittens in the backyard, the purebred dog that's inseminated with imported semen, the Dole horse mare that spends the summer in Sikkilsdalen, the ewe that mates with the prize ram, or the cow inseminated with elite semen. The production breeds owned by the breeding companies Geno, Norsvin and Norwegian Sheep and Goat Association are important genetic resources internationally, while endangered breeds native to Norway receive the most attention from national conservation programs in Norway.

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Photo: Anna Holene / Norsk genressurssenter / NIBIO

Anna Caroline Holene
Senior Scientific Adviser, Norwegian Genetic Resource Center - Division of Survey and Statistics

(+47) 948 27 598 Office Location: Ås R9


The traits of plants and animals are determined by their heritage and environment. Inherited traits are determined by genes contained within their DNA.

- Genetic variation refers to the differences in DNA/genes between individuals and/or populations, and is a prerequisite for both evolution and the refinement and development of new varieties and breeds. Genetic variation is an important part of biological diversity.

- Genetic resources can be defined as biological materials with genetic variation or genetic traits that could be significant for development and targeted use. Seeds, plants, sperm, and animals are examples of genetic resources.



The Norwegian Genetic Resource Centre estimated the inbreeding rate and thereby the effective population size for all of Norway’s cattle breeds at risk, using the method by Gutierrez et al 2008. When the conservation efforts began in 1990, these breeds were very small in number. However, the current population status shows that the breeds have been wisely managed.

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The aim of this study was to evaluate genetic diversity within and between lines at the Norwegian live poultry gene bank as well as assessing the conservation value in an international context. Eight lines including the national breed, Jærhøns, were genotyped with the 600K Affymetrix® Axiom® Chicken Genotyping Array. The white egg layers were generally more inbred than the brown layers. Comparative analyses were carried out with 72 international populations of different origins. The lines that were last bred for commercial production in Norway, Norbrid, are clearly separated from the rest of the international set and more closely related to the current commercial lines. The brown egg layer Norbrid 7 has the highest relative contribution to genetic diversity. The Norwegian genebank lines are of conservation value in a national and international perspective, as they all add genetic diversity to the global set.


This report presents all livestock production systems in Norway that significantly contribute to the country’s food and agricultural production. It describes the regulatory framework for Norwegian agriculture and aquaculture, as well as characteristics of the country’s production conditions and breeding work. The report discusses national expertise in the field of farm animal genetic resources and future developments regarding the country’s use of these resources. Furthermore, the report presents the conservation of Norway’s historical breeds with small populations. It concludes by making recommendations on which areas both Norway and the Nordic countries should emphasize regarding R&D activities and capacity building..... Genetic resource centre.